Victoria has been handed a shopping list of federal road projects and told to stump up $1.
5 billion to match Canberra’s contribution to build them.
The state will keep the money set aside for the dumped East West Link but has to use it for road and rail upgrades the federal government has picked out – with Victoria matching it dollar for dollar.
A third of that $1.5 billion will be committed to a $1 billion widening of the Monash Freeway, on top of the current $400 million expansion of the M1 corridor in Melbourne’s east.
“On the western side of the city we are offering to invest $350 million, again to be matched equally by the Victorian government, to upgrade the Western Ring Road,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters on Friday.
“We need the roads and we need the rail to connect to the ports and so we are also proposing a $220 million investment, again, to be matched by the state government, to upgrade 1000km of freight rail in the Murray Basin.”
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas welcomed the money but the state needs more details about the proposed projects.
“We’re happy to talk about that, but our very clear intention is that we will proceed with the works that we’ve (already) got,” Mr Pallas told reporters.
“There’s a distinct lack of clarity around the enhancements on the Monash, we’ll need to work through that.”
There was no money for the $5.5 billion Western Distributor toll road, and just $10 million to upgrade the business case for the $10.9 billion Melbourne Metro Rail project.
Mr Turnbull said Melbourne Metro had an “underdone” business case that needed to unlock more private funding.
“You only have to look at what has been done with the cross-city rail in London to see an example of that,” he said.
The Western Distributor has also been put forward for federal funding, but Major Projects Minister Paul Fletcher said a concessional loan was more likely.
“Where there’s a project supported by tolling revenue, we’re interested in providing innovative financing approaches,” Mr Fletcher said.
Mr Pallas said Canberra could keep its wallet closed if it was only interested in loans.
“They could keep their money. We don’t need the federal government’s financing for projects, we can borrow money at pretty much the same rate as the Commonwealth can,” Mr Pallas said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the roads announcement showed where the coalition’s priorities lay.
“Mr Turnbull again, like his predecessor Mr Abbott, has ignored Melbourne Metro,” he told reporters.
The prime minister said $3 billion was still available for any future government that wanted to build the East West Link.
RACV’s Brian Negus said the road projects were desperately needed, but the Public Transport Users Association’s Daniel Bowen said public transport had been overlooked.